University of Alaska Southeast Joins Open Textbook Network in Support of Affordable Course Content for Students
The University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) has joined the Open Textbook Network (OTN), an organization which assists universities and colleges to promote the use of open textbooks and practices.
Juneau, Ketchikan, Sitka, Alaska
Date of Press Release: August 1, 2019
The University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) has joined the Open Textbook Network (OTN), an organization which assists universities and colleges to promote the use of open textbooks and practices. OTN maintains the Open Textbook Library, “the premiere resource for peer-reviewed academic textbooks,” according to their website. Textbooks and materials through this service are free, licensed openly, and complete, promoting both academic freedom and student success.
Participation in the OTN is funded by the Title III Complete to Compete program, which is run out of the UAS Sitka Campus. Title III is a program of the U.S. Department of Education which allows institutions of higher education to increase self-sufficiency capacity to serve low-income students, providing funds to improve and strengthen the academic quality, institutional management, and fiscal stability of eligible institutions.
“Our grant project has a goal of reducing the costs of education, including textbook costs, so we are excited to help faculty gain access to peer-reviewed resources. The federal Department of Education Title III grants help institutions support underserved student populations, including Alaska Native and rural Alaskan students. We believe that OTN will help UAS better serve all of our students, and we are excited to collaborate with Egan Library on this project,” noted David Felts, Manager of the Student Services and the Title III Program at UAS Sitka.
Using the service enables faculty to choose which course materials are appropriate for their students. The OTN provides faculty ratings and comments for their content to help with the selection. The service results in significant savings for students by decreasing the need to purchase books and other materials. For the most part, the books are delivered and used online, however faculty reserve the option for printing at a significantly reduced price compared to traditional textbooks. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the price of textbooks has risen more than 1,000 percent between 1997 and 2015, and 87.5% since 2006.
"By joining the Open Textbook Network, UAS is acknowledging the need to add Open Educational Resources (OER) to our student success toolkit. OTN workshops will increase faculty awareness of OER and engage them in necessary conversations about college affordability, access and equity. Students simply can't learn from course materials they can't afford. The work underway at UAS to increase faculty awareness and use of Open Educational Resources (OER) is complementary to the guiding values of excellence and access at the heart of the UAS Strategic Plan and mission,” according to Jonas Lamb, librarian lead for “Open UAS,” a textbook affordability and Open Educational Resources (OER) initiative of the UAS Egan Library and the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT).
UAS Library Dean Elise Tomlinson added, “The Egan Library began promoting and supporting faculty in the use of OER in 2016 as part of our Teaching and Learning Program. Since that time the library has taken the lead in this area providing workshops for faculty, organizing outreach and awareness events with students and in the process has saved 1000 UAS students more than $90,000 on required textbooks through the use of OER and library materials. Free and low-cost textbook alternatives are an effective student success strategy supported by research indicating a strong correlation between cost of attendance and student retention.”
More information about Open Educational Resources at UAS
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University of Alaska Southeast